By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

Georgia’s controversial Immigration Enforcement Review Board has been dissolved. Governor Brian Kemp has quietly signed a law, which was approved unanimously by lawmakers.

The Board was designed to probe complaints from the public about violations of immigration-related state laws. With members appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor and House speaker, it could also issue subpoenas, place witnesses under oath and issue fines. But the Board was criticized by civil rights groups, who said it had become a tool of harassment for anti-immigration groups.

Of the 20 complaints the board received in its first six years, all but one came from D.A. King, an anti-illegal immigration activist. The fight over the Board also was a factor in last year’s Republican race for governor. Then-Lt. Governor Casey Cagle (a candidate for governor in 2016) filed a complaint with the Board alleging the City of Decatur was creating sanctuaries for criminals. The City of Decatur soon fired back with a lawsuit alleging the Board was violating the state’s transparency laws. The Board ultimately settled with the city, agreeing to make its proceedings more public and pay City of Decatur $12,000 in attorney fees and other costs. The fallout left the board without its chairman and a longtime board member, who both resigned after Decatur’s attorney questioned whether they had overstayed their term in office.